He was born February 1, 1935 in Milan and graduated from Milan Polytechnic – Faculty of Architecture in 1959. His professors were Ernesto Rogers and Gio Ponti then he worked at the Design of the Rinascente, with Augusto Morello.
Then he began his private practice in the early 1960s. He had since collected prices and awards all over the world. To crown his early achievements, in 1987, he had the honour of organizing a personal retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art of New York, showing 25 of his works: including Olivetti business machines as well as furniture for B&B and Cassina – such as the famous “Cab” chair – and the innovative office chairs designed for Vitra which has since been produced in thousands of units.
(the Nuvola by Bellini)
From 1963 to 1991 he was chief designer for Olivetti. And then for 5 years he was an automobile design with Renault, Fiat and Lancia while designing lamps which masterpieces for Artemide, Erco and Flos, which are still collected with avidity by people who know their value as works of art.
Starting from the ‘80s, Mario Bellini had been increasingly successful in the field of urban architecture in Europe, Japan, the United States, Australia and the Arab Emirates. Here are some of his main projects: Museum of Islamic Arts at Louvre Museum, Paris, 2005-2012; Museum of the City of Bologna, Italy, 2004-2012; Urban redevelopment “Verona Forum”, Verona, Italy, 2004–2011; Refurbishment of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, 2007–2011; National Gallery of Victoria extension and redevelopment, Melbourne, Australia, 1996–2003; Essen International Fair Extension, Germany, 1998–2001; Natuzzi Americas Headquarters, High Point, North Carolina, USA, 1996–1998; Arsoa Co./Cosmetics- Headquarters, Yamanashi, Japan, 1996–1998; New fair district of the Milan Trade Fair, 1987–1997; Risonare Vivre Club Complex, Kobuchizawa, Japan, 1989–1992; Tokyo Design Centre, Tokyo, Japan, 1988–1992; Yokohama Business Park, Yokohama, Japan, 1987–1991; Villa Erba Exhibition and Congress Centre, Cernobbio (Como), 1986–1990; Thermoelectric power plant of Cassano d’Adda-Office building, 1985–1990; New Museum of the city of Berlin, Germany, 2008.
(Bellini’s Veil at the Louvre)
Mario Bellini is also very active in China and due to him is the redevelopment of the City Centre of Tianjin, completed in 2003 and he has now on the drawing board the creation of an ecological city. An Italian journalist asked him which is his greatest regret, and he said:
“An open wound: Turin, the public library. I feel sorry for it. In 2002 I won with my project and then I discovered that there was no money for the building. It was set to be the largest public library of Italy, a crystal tower, 2 theatres, and conference halls. They were telling me that was all right and I had to wait but then I discovered that they had sold the land to build a shopping centre. I am still hoping for it but I would like to invite the people of Turin to question such decision about shelving such a project which was so much admired. A library is better than another shopping centre. I would like to add that I have been regularly paid for it but I have received a great slight on my image as an architect.”
(The library that never was, Bellini’s project for the city of Turin)